My friend Bill G. offers an apt term to describe what is going on in Washington: Fried Green Liberalism.
Bill is the type of fellow upon which every great civilization is built. He sacrificed long and hard to get himself through law school. He's worked harder ever since to provide for his family and sock away dough for college and retirement.
Like many fine citizens, Bill follows current events closely and participates in his republic actively. He's been mighty worried by the "modern liberalism" that is taking over our government of late.
Our country was founded on liberalism, you see -- the old kind, not what we now consider "modern liberalism" or "progressivism."
The original liberalism was based on the concept of liberty and freedom. It believed that government is a potential danger -- our Founders had experienced the confiscatory nature of unrestrained government -- and therefore sought to keep government small.
It believed that the government's only legitimate role is to protect -- protect private property ownership, our borders, free and fair commerce, speech, religious belief, individual liberty and so on.
To wit: It sought to protect the God-given rights of the average Joe against infringement by his own government.
Modern liberalism, though, isn't wary about government. It sees all-powerful, all-controlling big government as a good thing. Its intentions may be good but the outcome often isn't.
Hoping to be more generous and compassionate to the poor, the modern liberal seeks to expand government programs, which makes more people dependent -- and poor.
Hoping to improve health care for the uninsured, the modern liberal seeks government control over the entire health care system -- which will worsen care for most.
Hoping to spread prosperity among everyone, the modern liberal wants government to take more wealth from those who produce it and distribute more to those who do not -- which will ultimately hamper the economy and make all of us poorer, especially the poor.
Which brings us to a recent e-mail Bill sent me.
Unable to sleep one night -- stressed out by his numerous adult responsibilities, no doubt -- he stumbled down to his living room and began watching "Fried Green Tomatoes," a delightful movie set in a small Alabama town. At one point in the film, the two lead female characters hop a freight train for a night of fun. They find themselves in a boxcar packed with food being shipped by a private company.
As the train passes by what appears to be a homeless camp, the lead character, Idgie, decides to start throwing boxes and cans of food to the people camped along the track.
"What are you doing?" asks Ruth, the other character. "That's not yours to give."
"That's just a bunch of church talk," says Idgie.
Idgie quickly persuades Ruth to see it her way. Soon, both women are throwing boxes and cans of food to the people along the tracks -- they feel mighty good about themselves in the process.
"Isn't this a perfect illustration of modern liberalism at work?" Bill wrote to me. "Modern liberals feel good about giving away other people's property to people they don't know.
"They feel quite competent to decide who deserves what and who should pay for it. They feel no regret about taking property from someone they do not see -- no regret about the harm they may be doing.
"Just as bad is the subtle message the liberals are sending to the homeless along the tracks: If the homeless wish to keep getting those free handouts, they must stay there and wait for others to toss them free food. If they leave to improve their lot, they risk missing the free handouts -- hence, a perverse incentive to stay put."
Well said, Bill.
Unfortunately, Fried Green Liberalism is the philosophy of the folks who are currently running our government.
They'll probably keep running things that way, too, until -- to borrow from Margaret Thatcher -- they run out of other people's money.
- Tom Purcell is a humor columnist syndicated exlusively by Cagle Cartoons. He can be reached at Purcell@caglecartoons.com